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Banneker letter to Thomas Jefferson

Just a reminder of how power and wealth corrupted even the men we most admire, our founding fathers. Most of them at least passively opposed slavery but most of them found it too inconvenient to allow the freedom to their own slaves.

I like how free black man Benjamin Bannaker calls out Thomas Jefferson in this 1791 letter. Here’s an excerpt:

He reminds Jefferson that 15 year ago, Jefferson “clearly saw into the injustice of a state of slavery” and puts him on the spot by noting “how pitiable is it to reflect, that although you were to fully convinced of the benevolence of the Father of Mankind, and of his equal, impartial distribution of these rights and privileges (‘that all men are created equal…’) …that you should at the same time counteract his mercies, in detaining by fraud and violence so numerous a part of my brethren, under groaning and captivity and cruel oppression, that you should at the same time be found guilty of that most criminal act, which you professedly detested in others, with respect to yourselves.”

-from the book American Antislavery Writings (2012)

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